Ruth Butaumocho Gender Editor
“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” The above quote from American businessman Jimmy Dean aptly fits into the narrative of Pastor Petunia Chiriseri. Pastor Chiriseri is a businesswoman and a motivational speaker who defined her life and those around her within a short period of time. From an ordinary girl growing up in the streets of Barbourfields, Bulawayo, Pastor Chiriseri has become a renowned pastor, preacher and businesswoman whose influence transcends Zimbabwe’s borders
She sits high among a new breed of female pastors who feed on the Bible daily. These phenomenal ladies have become role models in their own communities and Zimbabwe at large. “I had always known that one day I would become a leader, because I grew up surrounded by leaders.
“What I didn’t know though was where I would lead. “But I grew up understanding that you can become what you want once you focus your mind to it. Success is indeed inspired by one’s attitude.” Hailing from a family where both her parents were epitomised by hard work with her father working in the municipality while her mother was among the first black matrons, Pastor Chiriseri knew she had to excel.
“My focus was on academic achievement and never did I imagine that one day I would become a pastor, although I was a Sunday school teacher at some point,” she recalled. Armed with academic qualifications, she trained as a school teacher and spent 20 years “breaking” the chalk, taking Advanced Level students through Biology studies. However, in April 2006, God spoke to her advising her to start a ministry.
She was attending an international conference, the Azusar Street Festival, with her husband Apostle Charles Chiriseri in California. “God spoke to me clearly that I had an apostolic calling. Together with many others, we were commissioned to go and become revivalist of the Century, back in our countries.” That revelation became the turning point in her life.
She relinquished her pastoral duties at Faith Ministries, giving birth to His Presence Ministries. Together with her husband, they worked tirelessly to shape the ministry, opening branches in different cities and countries. To date, His Presence Ministries has branches in the United Kingdom, South Africa and 10 branches throughout Zimbabwe’s major cities.
His Presence Ministries recently opened 10 mega churches in Harare, to cater for several of its members across Zimbabwe. Having firmly established the church, Pastor Chiriseri, was not convinced of her role in fulfilling some of the tenets of societal requirements, which are critical in forming good communities.
These include family, church, education, governance, music and media. “As a family we resolved to play our role in fulfilling some of the pillars of society that Apostle Charles Chiriseri always talks about, by building a school,” she said. Work on the school, Legacy International School began in 2007, at the same time that the couple was expanding the ministry to different parts of the globe.
“It was not easy, juggling the responsibilities that come along with running a ministry and planning a big project like a school. “But in God’s stride, time and purpose, we knew it was going to be possible.” The construction at the school, which is nestled in Harare’s leafy suburb of Borrowdale at a three and half hectare piece of land, has been complete.
It has since started enrolling primary pupils for 2016.
Despite her busy schedule within the ministry, school and family, Pastor Chiriseri finds time to mentor and empower women in different circumstances, a responsibility God bestowed on her.
“Women are the roots of any society and a solid foundation on which our principles, values and aspirations are hinged. There are a critical mass that needs our love, support and sometimes encouragement for them to go on,” she said. Pastor Chiriseri said despite the economic challenges being experienced in Zimbabwe, women had shown to be a resilient lot, putting food on the table against the odds.
“In all the seminars that I speak, I encourage them (women) to have a vision first before they can start thinking of where they will get seed capital to start their income generating projects. “Money naturally follows a vision, not the other way around,” she said. For her passion for mentoring women and the youth, Pastor Chiriseri has received invitations to speak on several local and international forums.
She is also actively involved with a number of organisations. Pastor Chiriseri is part of the National Committee of the Gender Based Violence Prevention Strategy in the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development. She also chairs the UNDP aided resource mobilisation team of Ecumenical Christian Leaders Forum.
Pastor Chiriseri is also the chaplain for the Harare City Council and the founder of Christian Mothers Voice, an advocacy group that encourages women and the youth to participate in national issues. “It is through the Lord who gives me strength and the wisdom to execute when I am expected to,” said the mother of four children.
Realising that it is not everyone who will have access to her motivational seminars, Pastor Chiriseri has since gone into writing. She co-authored a book with her husband on marriages and is currently working on another publication that deals with handling divorce and other life calamities.